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URI Open Access Fund

The URI Open Access Fund will underwrite reasonable publication charges for open access journals when funds are not otherwise available.


What is the URI Open Access Fund?

The University of Rhode Island Open Access (URI OA) Fund is an initiative to support alternative, sustainable business models for scholarly publishing. The URI OA Fund supports members of the University of Rhode Island community who want to make their journal articles free to all readers immediately upon publication. The fund pays reasonable publication fees for articles published in eligible open access journals for which no other funding is available. The URI OA Fund was established in fulfillment of the University of Rhode Island's commitment as a signatory of the Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity.


What is the Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity?

The Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity is a consortium of universities that have committed to supporting innovative business models for scholarly publishing by "underwriting reasonable publication charges for articles written by [their] faculty and published in fee-based open-access journals and for which other institutions would not be expected to provide funds." Signatories include Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Duke University, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Michigan, the University of Utah, the University of Pittsburgh, and Texas A&M University.


Are there initiatives similar to the URI OA Fund at other institutions?

The institutions participating in the Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity have established similar funds. Other institutions, though not COPE signatories, have established funds compatible with its underlying principles. These include Carnegie Mellon University, Colorado State University, Johns Hopkins University, Tufts University, a number of University of California campuses, the University of Colorado, the University of Florida, the University of Iowa, the University of Kansas, the University of Minnesota, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Oregon, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For a complete list of OA journal funds hosted by universities, research centers, foundations, and government agencies, see the Open Access Directory's list of OA journal funds.


Who is funding this initiative at the University of Rhode Island?

The URI OA Fund is funded jointly by the Office of the Provost and the Office of the Vice President of Research and Economic Development. The fund is managed by the University Libraries.


Why is this initiative needed?

Currently, most scholarly journals are supported through a combination of subscription fees and page charges. If these journals are to convert to open access, they must be assured of the availability of a steady stream of revenue from sources other than subscriptions. The URI OA Fund, along with publication subsidies from granting agencies, can help provide that assurance.


Who is eligible for funding?

The URI OA Fund is available to all current University of Rhode Island employees (including full-time and part-time faculty, researchers, administrators, staff, postdocs, and fellows) and students (graduate and undergraduate). Note that adjunct faculty who are not employed by the university are not eligible to apply.

Authors who apply for funding must have an ORCID and include it in their request for funds.

Faculty members applying for reimbursement from the URI OA Fund must be in substantial compliance with the URI Open Access Policy. Compliance for this purpose means that you have signed an Assistance Authorization Form and have submitted appropriate versions of a substantial number of your policy-covered articles for deposit in DigitalCommons@URI


How do I apply?

Upon acceptance of your article for publication, follow the instructions on the Apply for Funds tab of this guide.


What if an article has multiple authors?

In the case of an article with multiple authors, each URI author may apply for reimbursement for a prorated portion of the publication fee. For example: An article with three authors, two of whom are employees and/or students at the University of Rhode Island, is to appear in a journal with a $1,500 publication fee. Each URI author may apply for reimbursement for $500. In the hypothetical case of an eligible journal with a $6,000 publication fee, each URI author may apply for reimbursement for a prorated portion of the $2,000 funding cap per article, or $666.67.

The goal of this restriction is to make sure that other institutions are contributing to the transition to Open Access publishing. Co-authors from other schools should not be able to "free-ride" on the University of Rhode Island's OA Fund; they should apply to a fund at their own institution or, if no such fund exists, promote the establishment of one.


What publications are eligible for funding?

Peer-reviewed scholarly articles that are published in open access journals are eligible. The journals must:


Who determines whether a journal is eligible?

Authors must attest when applying for funding that the journal is an eligible publication venue and that fund eligibility requirements have been met. 

Applications are approved by the University Libraries.

We trust those requesting funds to make appropriate decisions about the quality of the publication venue and the value of its services in relation to the fees it charges. For more information, see the Evaluating OA Journals tab of this guide.


Are University of Rhode Island authors being told where they can publish?

No. Authors are free to publish wherever they want. Their choice is only restricted if they wish to apply for funding from the URI OA Fund to support publication in open access journals. If they wish to receive support from the URI OA Fund, then they must meet the program's eligibility requirements.

The goal of the URI OA Fund is to help open access journals compete with subscription journals on a more level playing field. Universities have long subsidized publication costs through library journal subscriptions; so too should they help subsidize publication fees for open access journals.

To make your work open access, an alternative to publishing in OA journals, if you are a URI faculty member, is to publish in a subscription-based journal and then comply with the URI Open Access Policy by depositing a version of your article in DigitalCommons@URI.


So why would a URI faculty member choose to publish in an open access journal that charges a publication fee when they could make their work available open access for free through DigitalCommons@URI?

Because the open access journal that charges a publication fee is their first choice publication outlet.


Aren't open access journals of lower quality than traditional, subscription-based journals?

There are now many high-quality open access journals that are well-regarded in their fields. (There are also many low-quality subscription journals, see for example the "fake journals" published by Elsevier or the gibberish articles published by Springer and IEEE).

As Peter Suber writes in the SPARC Open Access Newsletter, "The key variables in journal quality are excellent authors, editors, and referees. OA [open access] journals can use the same procedures and standards, and the same people—the same authors, editors, and referees—as TA [toll access, i.e. subscription] journals."

Quality, however, is not the same thing as prestige. Suber notes, "If most OA journals are lower in prestige than most TA journals, it's not because they are OA. A large part of the explanation is that they are newer and younger. And conversely: if most TA journals are higher in prestige than most OA journals, it's not because they are TA. A large part of the explanation is that they are older or have a headstart."

For more information on evaluating open access journals and about illegitimate, so-called "predatory" open access journals, see the Evaluating OA Journals tab of this guide. 


Are "hybrid" open access journals eligible for funding through the URI OA Fund?

No. Hybrid open access journals are subscription-based journals that charge a fee, sometimes called an "author's choice" or "open choice" fee, to make single articles available open access. Hybrid journals are not eligible for funding because they are receiving revenue through subscription charges. Only journals that do not charge readers or institutions for access to their peer-reviewed content are eligible for funding through the URI OA Fund. (Eligible journals may, however, have subscription options for non-peer-reviewed content such as letters to the editor, news stories, book reviews, etc.)

For more information, see Stuart Shieber's blog post, "Why not underwrite hybrid fees?" See also Mike Taylor's 2013 blog post "Some problems with hybrid open access".


Can the URI OA Fund be used to support the publication of formats other than journal articles—such as open access conference presentations and monographs?

Not at this time. The URI OA Fund is for journal articles only.


I am being charged page or color charges by a subscription-based journal. Will the URI OA Fund cover these fees?

No. Many subscription-based journals charge some form of publication fee, usually in the form of page or color charges. Funding for these charges is available through Project Completion Grants administered by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development.

The URI OA Fund does not cover publishing fees by subscription-based journals since its purpose is to support innovative models of scholarly communication.


Are there limits on the amount that can be requested?

Funding is available for up to $2,000 per article and up to $3,000 per author in the course of an academic year (July 1-June 30).


What fees are covered by the URI OA Fund?

The URI OA Fund covers, up to the $2,000 cap per article, all publication fees related to the online version of the article. Charges for preprints or print-on-demand copies are not covered.


Does URI have any memberships with open access publishers that allow faculty to pay lower fees to publish in their journals?

Some open access publishers (e.g. BioMed Central, Hindawi, Frontiers, MDPI, Public Library of Science, F1000Research) offer fee-based institutional memberships that provide discounts on publication charges to authors affiliated with the institution. Harvard's Stuart Shieber argues against these memberships because they favor one publisher over others, result in the university paying publication charges that should be covered by grant funders, and have the potential to result in hyperinflation of fees by interfering with market efficiencies.

The University of Rhode Island does not participate in these memberships at this time.


Who decides which applications are funded?

The University Libraries approve applications to the URI OA Fund. Applications that meet eligibility requirements are funded on a first-come, first-served basis.

Information about fund reimbursements is publicly available through the Funding Reports tab of this guide.


Do authors need to exhaust other funding sources before applying to the URI OA Fund? What if the research in the article was grant-funded?

The URI OA Fund is intended to be a funding source of last resort. We expect researchers to request funding for open access publication from their funding agency if they can do so. URI grant seekers are strongly encouraged to include a line item for publication costs in all grant and gift proposals. 

The goal of this restriction is to make sure that granting agencies take responsibility for the scholarly dissemination of research resulting from their awards. The transition to open access publishing needs to be supported by granting agencies and universities together.

In fact, a recent study out of the University of California, the Pay It Forward Project, found that if the entire publication system flipped from subscription-access journals to open access journals that charged a publication fee, research-intensive institutions would likely pay more in the open access scenario than in the current subscription-based system. However, if grant funders were to pay for the articles resulting from the research they funded, this would not be the case. 

In limited cases the URI Open Access Fund will support open access publication charges for articles reporting on grant-funded research, specifically: 1) if a grant has expired before an article’s publication or 2) if open access publication charges are not an allowable expense. All other fund rules apply.

Note that because it is a funding source of last resort, the URI OA Fund will only issue reimbursements for for personal expenditures. It will not reimburse or transfer funds to other budget lines at the university. It will not reimburse P-Card charges. 


What if my article is grant-funded and I didn't budget for an APC, but I want to make my work available open access?

You have a number of options. Consider the following:


What materials are authors required to submit?

See the instructions for application and reimbursement located on the Apply for Funds tab of this guide.


What is the tax status of reimbursements?

Although the University of Rhode Island cannot act as an individual's tax advisor, we are providing some general information about support from the URI OA Fund:

For University of Rhode Island employees, including faculty members, the payment or reimbursement of open access publication fees may reasonably be viewed as a "working condition fringe" (defined in Internal Revenue Code Section 132 as any property or service provided by an employer to an employee to the extent that, if the employee paid for the property or service, the payment would represent a deductible employee business expense.) Since working condition fringe benefits are excludable from income, amounts reimbursed to employees from the URI OA Fund will not be included as income on the employee's Form W-2, and will not be subject to any reporting or withholding.

For non-employee students, the payment or reimbursement of the fees would not be deemed a "working condition fringe", but rather scholarship or fellowship payments, which are subject to tax under Internal Revenue Code Section 117 unless used for qualified tuition and related expenses.

Reimbursements thus may be taxable. For U.S. persons, there is no requirement for URI to withhold, or report the amount of, such fellowship payments. Any required reporting is done by the recipients on their individual returns. For non-U.S. persons, taxable amounts are subject to reporting on a Form 1042-S, and are subject to withholding, subject to any income tax treaties with the recipient's country of residence, in the same manner as any other fellowship payment to such individuals provided by the university.


Is the URI Open Access Fund the same thing as the URI Open Access Policy?


The OA movement uses the term "gold OA" for OA delivered by journals and "green OA" for OA delivered by repositories (Suber).

The URI Open Access Fund provides financial support for members of the URI community who choose to follow the "gold" road and publish in open access journals.

The URI Open Access Policy applies to all scholarly articles written by URI faculty, regardless of whether they were published in subscription-based or open access journals. The Policy enables faculty to follow the "green" road by making their articles freely available in the DigitalCommons@URI institutional repository.


So do articles authored by URI faculty that are published in "gold" open access journals also need to be deposited in DigitalCommons@URI per the URI Open Access Policy

Yes. The URI Open Access Policy applies to all scholarly articles authored by faculty, even those published in open access journals.

Although the Open Access Policy targets the author's final version of the article for deposit, in cases when an article is published in an open access journal with a license (e.g. CC BY or CC BY-NC) that is more permissive than the standard Terms of Use for Open Access Policy Articles, the final publisher PDF version can be deposited instead. Please contact the OA Policy administrators with any questions. See


The publisher is asking me to choose a Creative Commons license for my article. Which should I pick?

A Creative Commons CC BY license is considered the best practice for open access journals. In the words of Harvard's Stuart Shieber, "When authors provide their work under a CC BY license, they allow anyone to share their work (copy, distribute, and transmit it), to remix the work (to adapt it in various ways), and to make commercial use of the work. However, any use of the work is subject to an attribution requirement: a user must attribute the work properly to the authors, but may not suggest that the authors endorse their use." (In the article, Shieber also addresses common concerns about the CC BY license.)

The following organizations have endorsed CC BY as the license of choice for OA journals:


Does the URI OA Fund have permanent funding?

All aspects of this program, including the amount of funding committed to the program, will be analyzed and reviewed on a regular basis. If the fund proves to be valuable to scholarly communication and to the URI community, the URI OA Fund will receive continued funding, as budgets allow.

Contact information

The URI Open Access Fund is managed by the University Libraries.

Financial support for the fund is provided by the Office of the Provost and the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development.

Reimbursements are processed through the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development.

University Libraries contact:
Andrée Rathemacher
(401) 874-5096

Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development contact:
Patti Correia
(401) 874-4576

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.